Day 0: In The Books

I did it. I’m hurting pretty bad; my knees hate me and no doubt my heel will not let me walk tomorrow, but I did it and I have the medal to prove it. I also have the video to prove it. I stayed pretty calm since then until I realized my parents will get to see me finish my first marathon. Then I lost it completely.

I didn’t take the medals in the shower with me, but I did have to think about it first.

My never ending gratitude goes to my friend Linda Reilly for being my coach, mentor and tour guide for all 26.2 miles through Philadelphia. You are an amazing person and I’m grateful we met.

Me n Linda

This is me, thrilled to find my car where I left it when we parked at 5:00 a.m. For a moment I was scared, thinking it might get towed. Also, I believed parking in Philly is free on Sundays so when I came back to find no ticket? Double thrilled!

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And this is Ryan, my hero, without whom I couldn’t have done half as much as I did. The best was seeing his face as I crossed the finish line, his expression saying, “She did it! She really did it!” Either that or “Finally this is over and we can go home!”

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Now I retire from running. At least for 2014. I’ve already registered for a 5k next year but all my running for the rest of this year will be on my time, at my leisure. Once I can walk again, it’s going to be spectacular!

 

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Day 1: Go The Distance

I can’t believe I just did my last training before the marathon. Sixteen weeks of training, over. Where the HELL did the time go? I remember my first run at the park in my shiny new OAR singlet, feeling all full of myself, thinking about contacting the local paper so they could follow me and I could raise more money for the charity. I saw my picture in the paper, and people recognizing me in stores.

Okay, that didn’t happen. 🙂 I ran my training in relative obscurity, sometimes with my friend Jack, sometimes with music, sometimes entirely in my own head. But I did every single mile and now it’s over.

I’m afraid I’m going to feel rudderless without the structure of training so I’m sticking to it but modifying it a little as time permits. I can’t take off Fridays to do 20 anymore, but then again, this is also my last race of 2014. My first was a little 5k at the Navy Yards in the cold of February but it was fun and I think I can fit into the shirt now. 🙂

I’m nervous but I have a plan. I’m laying out all my clothes this afternoon when I get back from the expo—where I can’t wait to get my geek on!—so that come 4:00 tomorrow morning, all I have to do is go to where I left what I need and get my ass out the door. Funny thing is, this morning I gave my alarm clock a training run and set it for 4 a.m. I heard Christmas music whispering from the clock radio and rolled over at 4:41. The volume was too low. Thank GOD I tested it out or I’d be in a world of sh*t tomorrow. (And here I’d thought it absurd to set the alarm for 4 when I didn’t need to be up ’til 7.)

Some of the things I need are already in place. The weather should hold up so I’m thinking I’ll only wear my singlet and pants, with a throwaway sweatshirt over the top that I can toss off around mile 2. By then I’ll be warmed up and feeling good, though we’ll also be heading for Columbus Boulevard, which I hear can be cold, but the starting temps should be in the mid-40’s. I’ll see how I feel.

My friend Linda is at the expo and posted a pic of the medals. Not the big gaudy gold things from last year (the 20th anniversary) but still good; I won’t be refusing it when I cross the finish line. My comment: “WANT!” Her reply: “And you shall have!” I adore that lady.

In my heart I feel good; I feel like I can do it. My head is worried by this because arrogance is dangerous. But I did the training (all of it!) and I have everything I need. I know what I have to do; I have a metric sh*t-ton of support from my Sunday Funday Runday group, my family and friends; I’m prepared and I did the homework. Now is when the rubber meets the road, literally.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Can’t wait to show you the medal tomorrow.

Day 5: Coming Together

Sometimes it’s amazing how tiny little pieces fall into place at the right time. The marathon-day weather I was so terrified of has been steadily improving since I started checking the 10-day forecasts 5 days ago. Now we’re up to a morning low of 49, midday high of 58. If the rain expected for later in the day holds out, it’ll be perfect. I’ll be fine if the rain just holds out ’til 1:30.

Tonight I ate dinner (alone, because the boys took their plates and ran back to whatever they were doing) and a commercial came on with a brief snippet of a song that caught my attention. Within ten minutes it was downloaded and on my Run playlist. Look for Imagine Dragons, “I Bet My Life.” It’ll knock your socks off.

But the really amazing one happened yesterday. I have a wonderful friend, Linda Reilly, who’s leading Reilly Regiment, our OAR team for the marathon. I’ve talked to her quite a few times (we have so much in common!) and she picked up on my nerves, offering to run the marathon with me. I appreciated the offer but I’d envisioned myself running it alone, head deep into the music on my iPod. Yeah, I can do it alone, but I don’t always HAVE to, and after the fantastic 10k I did with Laura on the 9th, I was tempted to take Linda up on her offer. Having someone there to talk to kept my mind off everything else I might’ve otherwise spent too much time focused on: my heel, nerves, stress, etc.

So then someone else in our running group expressed some concerns about her first marathon, and another chimed in too. I thought, “There’s something to this running with friends thing”, and I asked if they wanted to run it together. If anyone felt strong enough to take off, go for it; feel free. But at least if we started together, we could keep each other relaxed, grounded, steady.

From there I thought of the time my therapist called me a “kindness hog.” She’s right; I’m more than happy to help others, but I don’t like taking help when people offer it to me, even if I really need it. She asked if I liked how it felt to help someone and of course I said yes. Well, her theory was that I was denying someone else the chance to feel that same joy. I had that in mind when I asked Linda if her offer still stood, and even though she could blow through this marathon in 2 hours less time than it’ll take me, she’s going to be right there with me for 26.2 miles. (People, she’s BQ’d for the next TWO YEARS. She’s my very own personal Meb Keflezighi!) And on top of that, she’ll be there to help Jen and Jill too, so not only will Linda be there to help me, but she can help them too. Winners all around!

This isn’t chilling out the nerves, though. Last night I dreamed I was so excited to see Ryan at Eakins Oval (the halfway point) that I turned right instead of left and crossed the finish line for the Half. The officials wouldn’t let me go back to run the rest of the full, and I woke up PISSED. I can’t wait to see what I dream of tonight but I’m told this isn’t uncommon.

I have a pile of clothes waiting for Sunday morning, o’dark thirty. I have two parking lots mapped out. I know where the nearest Wawa is for Ryan to go get hot chocolate and something to eat. I did my third-to-last training run tonight, though I did it on the AMT at the gym to save my heel, which is feeling better but not 100%. Tomorrow I’m supposed to rest but I’m going to the gym again and using some weights. Can’t hurt. Thursday 5 miles, Saturday 1-3 miles. Sunday… <exhale>

I’m almost there. I can’t believe 16 weeks of training is almost over. Scared may not be the word to describe how I feel. Anxious. Excited. Nervous. But I also think I’m ready. I mean, I’ve done three 20 milers. I did 3 races in 2 weeks. Just keep moving and I’ll be fine. And now that the weather seems to be cooperating…?

This is going to be amazing. These are the last days for me to call myself a marathoner in training. Sunday night when I look in the mirror before bed, I’ll own a new title:  marathoner.

And yes, I’ll probably be insufferably obnoxious. Deal with it. 😀

Day 56: A New Wrinkle

So this was my horoscope today:

“An inspirational person enters your life today, presenting you with an intriguing opportunity. You could be so eager for something new to happen that you start dreaming about all the possibilities without considering the practicalities involved. Be patient and try not to prematurely jump to any extreme conclusions. Although your conversation might not catalyze an immediate change, it could lead to something else that’s ultimately a positive move.”

I suspect I already know who the new person is: me. Seems after what feels like years of pre-menopausal symptoms, I’m finally there. If you’ll pardon the TMI, this appears to be the first time in my life I’m missing a period without there being a really nice reason for it. I’m not even sure what to do about it. For all the times I cursed The Curse, here it may be departing and I’m wondering what the hell to do now.

So I went for a 14 mile training run. If nothing else, life does go on, and marathon training has been brilliant for weight loss. I’ve lost 12 pounds since I started and this is the end if week 8. I feel awesome and I’m adjusting to the changes in my appearance because I’m not used to seeing this new person in the mirror. I’m even thinking I’m going to continue training after the marathon, though I may do shorter long runs on weekends.

Alas, the run is over, I have some errands, and then I plan on spending the rest of the day doing as little as humanly possible, because the last two weeks have been insane and I’m due for some down time. Make it a good one, people!

Day 112: Or Is It One?

Today is the last day of normal life. Well, technically. My 16-week marathon training programs starts tomorrow, so today was my last “freestyle” run before a chart on the wall mandates, between now and November 22nd, how far I’ll be running and when.

The pre-race nerves fluctuate. One day I’m scared spitless. The next day I’m confident I can finish. Remembering how bad my nerves were the night before my first 5k—I think I got 3 hours of sleep, wondering if I had everything I needed—and knowing that now, I sleep like a stone the night before a race, I expect I’ll need to try to go to bed at 8 the day before if I hope to close my eyes by 10. Let’s not forget that I’ll probably have to be at the starting line by 5, as my friends had to do last year. The race starts at 7. I keep telling myself it’ll all be over by 1. God willing and the creek don’t rise, it’ll be over a while before that, but we’ll see.

So as of tonight, all fun ceases. Well, not ALL (Bradley Cooper, call me? 🙂 ) but no more wine. Watch everything I eat. No cheat days. I’m officially in training in a few hours, which is why there’s ice cream in the freezer and a glass of white zinfandel next to me. I’m told if you want to change your body, take up running. If you want to change your life, train for a marathon. We’ll see.

I ran Kelly Drive and MLK Drive this morning, 9.22 miles. I started feeling it at 8 miles, with my feet hurting and my hips aching. All I could think was, “Oh great. I have 3 times this distance to go and I’m tired now? Lovely.” I’d planned on 10 miles but stopped when I got back to the car. But I got some beautiful pictures:

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And as luck would have it, I got to the Art Museum and started up the steps, videoing all the way, when “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky came on my iPod. For once, iPod, your timing was excellent. Could’ve been better because I was halfway up the steps at the time, but still, I appreciated it, and I ran around the fountain just to enjoy the moment a little longer. If you’ve never run the Steps or been to Philadelphia, but you wanted to run in Rocky’s footsteps, here you go. Sorry about the heavy breathing. Couldn’t be helped. 😉

Tomorrow it’s official: I’m training for a marathon. I’m scared, excited, anxious, and, well, just hand me the thesaurus. I’m sure I can find more adjectives. 🙂 Here goes everything!

 

 

Day 133: Deutschland Uber Alles

I’m just a little psyched, and also a little melancholy. Most of my genetic history comes from Germany, including my father who came here in the 1950’s with $2 in his pocket. Germany just won the World Cup, and aside from all the controversy about Brazil’s social priorities during the games, I’m really very happy.

See, my dad is in his 70’s. He’s seen Germany win the Cup before, but he’s in his 70’s now and there’s a possibility this is his last chance to see his birth country win the World Cup. (Oh, and did I mention he ‘s a big soccer fan? He doesn’t go to the games but he used to coach soccer, he put my brother through soccer, you name it. He lives and breathes soccer. I visited when Germany was playing one of the first round games and the world essentially came to a stop so we could watch the game. I didn’t mind; I watched right along with him. Well, until I conked out during intermission.)

That being said, more than anything else, I wanted Dad to see his team win just one more time. He could very well be kicking harder than ever in four years, but who knows for sure? He and Mom have already laid out their wills, named their executor, set out their last plans. I hate that they did that but it’s practical and I get it. I have to do it too. It is what it is. We’re humans, and we don’t live forever. I’ve had lots of friends lose a parent or both parents, and I don’t want to have to imagine how I’ll feel to be in their shoes. The day will come, but today is not that day, and I’m grateful for that.

So seeing Germany win today, and seeing on Facebook where my mom said in regard to that lone OT goal, “About time. Dad is going nuts here.” I wish I could see the grin on his face now, but I know he’s happy. Life will go on, and one day life will end, but today, Deutschland Uber Alles, and my Dad was here to see it, and I couldn’t be happier for both of them.

Great game, Argentina. You deserved this trip to the finals and you played a very tough game. I don’t know how Messi stood on unshaking knees with that last free kick; I was breathing shallow and I’m not even there.

World Cup 14

 

Day 139: My Bully, Myself

I have an odd reputation among my Facebook friends as something of a “grammar Nazi”. I don’t know where it comes from because I don’t correct other people’s posts gratuitously, but I occasionally get things posted on my timeline, teasing me about picking on other people’s grammar and spelling. In reality, grammar isn’t my strong suit and I know that. I wish it were. In high school I *seriously* wanted the award in senior year for best in English. No idea where I placed in the standing, but I didn’t get it. (I know who it was and I still haven’t forgiven her.) I couldn’t point out a gerund with a gun to my head, and every so often I’ll write something that looks so wrong, but I can’t figure out why, that I’ll just re-write it to say something I know isn’t wrong. It’s been mentioned to me that I sprinkle commas across the page like they came out of a pepper shaker. My AP English teacher accused me of having a love affair with a semicolon. But yes, I do like the crispness of a well-written sentence, and I can spot the bad ones pretty quickly. (Just ask my mom. She let me read a complaint letter she sent to a certain manufacturer and I spotted an error on the first line. She was mortified.)

Not long after my first trip to a yarn festival, I became a yarn snob. Until that point I didn’t really know what the good stuff was (baby alpaca, I’m looking at YOU). I thought good yarn was whatever I could grab on sale in the mill ends bags at AC Moore. My stash was so loaded with acrylic, it stood a good chance of surviving the next apocalypse. Then I found out about merino and superwash wool and alpaca and cashmere and yak down and qivuit. I stroked and fondled and cuddled some excellent yarns. I held something that made me tell everyone around me, “I want to make this into underwear and then never leave the house.” Somewhere around here I have a pic of a good friend all but having a mini-climax over some Dream in Color Smooshy, and I get that. From then on, my love of acrylic was limited to putting the right colors together for afghans and slippers, and then washing them with dryer sheets to make them softer. I use (one particular mass-marketed brand) for scrap afghans just to get it off my shelves. The stuff could still withstand nuclear war, but next to my skin, I want The Good Stuff.

Which brings me to last night, when I posted on Facebook what I thought was a useful chart showing what natural remedies could be used to combat cravings for unhealthy foods. I really liked it because my therapist once pointed out that you can erase a chocolate craving by eating macadamias. The reasoning is that a craving is the body’s way of telling you you’re missing something in your diet, and it’s recalling where it got that element last. The crave-able element in chocolate, for instance, can also be found in macadamia nuts, at fewer calories and with more nutritional value.

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However, after I posted the chart, a writer friend of mine good-heartedly informed me that you can’t replace chocolate with nuts, and that chocolate “feeds the soul.”

I blew a gasket. I’m getting health advice from someone who wears much bigger pants sizes? The last time I saw her, she was sporting a couple of extra chins. Honestly, I saw her across the room and, since she hadn’t shown up to a group get-together in a while, all I could think was, “Holy cow, how much weight did she gain?” Yes, I’m being judgmental and I hate myself for that. I learned months ago that it’s wrong to judge someone on their size alone. That large lady at the gym later complimented me on my workout, and we’ve since talked a few times and she’s one of the nicest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met. I should know not to be a weight snob, to live and let live, right? Well, live and let live right up until someone who wears size 24 pants is telling me after I ran 10 miles that she believes chocolate is a better choice than macadamia nuts? No. Just no. Or, in this case, just say no. I worked my tail off to lose 40 pounds, and now I’m signed up to run a marathon and committed to the training to finish that race. I’m going run a few hundred miles just prepping for that last 26.2. I’m sure as shit not going to jeopardize it by “feeding my soul” with chocolate. The issue at hand is, solving the problem of unhealthy cravings with healthy choices. Leave my soul out of it; I’m feeding my body what it needs. Up yours, comfort food. If I wanted to be comfortable, I’d keep my butt firmly affixed to the couch until the EMTs need to widen my doorway to get me out. (At this point I think, “When did I become a weight bully?”)

What I found funny was when I pointed out my current success to her and I had the numbers to back it up (BP, cholesterol, etc.), she responded with, “Then I’m happy it worked for you.” My reply: “It will work for anyone if they want it bad enough.” Her reply: silence.

The real world, and real success, is just outside your comfort zone. She extolled the benefits of comfort foods, but she can’t walk to the bathroom without getting winded. I ran ten miles and then spent an hour getting groceries. (And not a single piece of junk food hit my cart!) My legs are stiff today but I love how they feel. I have muscles where I had fat. Where once were Thunder Thighs is a hell of a lot of strength and competence. Chocolate can’t make you feel that good.

Sweetie, you know who you are: I hope you figure it out before it’s too late.

So yes, in addition to being a yarn snob and a grammar Nazi, let’s add weight bully to my growing list of judgmental side jobs. My theory is that if I can’t be a good example, let me be a horrible warning. J But I think I’m doing pretty good at being a good example. If I live to be 95 and I’m still running, and I’m cancer-free and not taking a bucket full of meds every day, I won. Too bad the folks who didn’t listen to me won’t be around to see it.

When I had some down time yesterday, I caught the movie “Without Limits”, a bio-pic about Steve Prefontaine. I’d already read the biography, but it re-inspired me to go find the poster with his quote: To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Well, life is a gift. Don’t waste it on chocolate. Once in a while is fine, but don’t use it as a crutch. You know who I’m talking to.

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